Brandon Golden ’14 Reflects on the History Major and Medical School

Brandon Golden recently shared a bit about how his experience as a history major at the University of Scranton prepared him for medical school:

History Degree to MD

After attending a prestigious medical school and securing a position at a competitive residency in emergency medicine, I am confident that my history degree was an asset. Back when I was deciding my major, I struggled to choose between the typical “pre-med major” or a degree in history, which I was passionate about but not sure it would help me get to medical school. Looking back on all of the chemical pathways, pharmacology, and pathology I have learned over the years, I never regretted using my undergraduate degree to explore my interest in history.

I would encourage anyone considering pursuing a medical education to choose a history or other humanities degree while at the University of Scranton. I believe you will stand out on the interview trail for both medical school and residency. This cannot be overstated in a field where everyone has great grades and test scores. A humanities major will help you stand out as a more well-rounded individual in a sea of “pre-med” applications. In addition, I think that the critical thinking, writing, and communication skills I developed with a history degree have helped me be a better medical student and physician. Often times I have found there is an “art” to medicine where the right answer isn’t always the one memorized in a book. There are multiple ways of being right, as long as you can back it up with supporting information. This is similar to the thinking of history majors, who can have multiple viewpoints on the same topic that can all be valid with the appropriate supporting evidence.

History and humanities majors will excel with the recent changes to medical school board exams, known as the dreaded USMLE. The shift of evaluation will be away from rote memorization (USMLE Step 1), the lowest form of learning, to more clinical and critical thinking skills that later USMLE exams (Step 2 CK) will test. Humanities majors are primed to succeed in this type of environment, in my opinion. The results of the first two years of medical school, which is heavy on memorization, will have very little impact on what type of residency you will be competitive for. Medical schools are looking to produce more and more holistic and humanistic physicians than those of the past. I would encourage you to pursue whatever major you would like, and know that it will not detract from your competitiveness for medical school. In fact, at many schools it will be seen as an asset. Learn to love life-long learning while in undergrad, and carry this with you to medical school. It will not matter if you are learning about Hamilton or histology, it will be a quest to gain more knowledge. I am confident that if you are able to perform well in the core medical school requirement classes at the University of Scranton, that will be the foundation you will need to succeed in medical school. All the other “upper level classes” in the sciences are not necessary to do well in medical school. Medical schools will teach you what you need to know without the extra frills. Take this opportunity in your life right now to study something in the humanities that you will never get exposure to again. I promise you will not regret it.


Enjoy the adventure,

Brandon Golden, M.D.

University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry Class of 2020

University of Scranton Class of 2014

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“Lift High The Cross” presented by Fr. Rob Carbonneau, C.P., Ph.D.

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Dr. Shuhua Fan Wins 2020 CHUS Distinguished Service Award

Congratulations to Dr. Shuhua Fan!

Dr. Fan was presented with the 2020 Distinguished Service Award from the Chinese Historians in the United States (CHUS) at the 2020 AHA in NYC.

Dr. Fan’s Presentation: “International Debate about Francis Knight’s Scheme to Introduce Chinese Instruction at Harvard, 1877-1882,” at the Jan. 2020 American Historical Association Annual Conference, New York City, New York.

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Student Research Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month


Students in Dr. Aiala Levy’s Colonial Latin America course, in conjunction with the Multicultural Center, designed an exhibit to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.  The student research focused on the Aztecs and their environment, religion, and the Atlantic World.  The exhibit is located on the second floor of LSC.

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The History Department makes the Royal News


History students outside the Office of the President of the Navajo Nation

The History Department is featured in the newest issue of the Royal News:


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Dr. Susan Poulson’s New Book on Suffrage


Dr. Susan Poulson’s new book, titled Suffrage: The Epic Struggle for Women’s Right to Vote, has recently been published Praeger and is now available.

The fight for women’s suffrage was a long and colorful struggle, beginning with a small number of women and men who put forth the radical idea of treating women as political equals at the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848. After the Civil War, an informal alliance between abolitionists and women’s rights reformers broke over the Fourteenth Amendment, which inserted the word “male” into the U.S. Constitution for the first time.

Several Western states permitted women to vote—Wyoming was the first in 1869—but national suffrage did not come until women formed a mass movement, with growing militancy, that put increasing pressure on a reluctant political establishment. After Tennessee became the final state to ratify in a dramatic vote at the state’s capital, twenty million American women were able to go to the polls in the fall of 1920.

This book has been several years in the making, with visits to over a dozen archives across the nation to highlight several of the intriguing citizens who favored and opposed the suffrage movement. The struggle mirrors the changing views and norms for American women from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth-century and provides background for the continuing evolution in gender roles today.

Congratulations to Dr. Poulson.

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IS Grad and former work-study Cat Bruno on her year in JVC

My name is Catherine Bruno and I’m a proud graduate of the University of Scranton, class of 2018 as well as a former work-study in the History Department. I graduated from Scranton with a degree in International Studies and French. Nearing the end of my college career, I was faced with the classic college senior dilemma; what am I going to do after I graduate? As I enjoyed outings with friends, studied for exams, and did my rounds as a Freshman RA, I constantly thought about how I wanted my future to look. It was all I could think about for months! I applied for a number of different jobs and graduate programs, but the one I felt most called to was the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. I was drawn to JVC initially due to its wide array of volunteer locations and opportunities. JVs can serve for either one year domestically or two years internationally in one of five countries. Opportunities range from working as a high school teacher in Micronesia to a Refugee Resettlement Agent in Atlanta. The International Studies major in me leapt at the opportunity to live and work in another country for two whole years! Not only was JVC the best fit logistically, but its promotion of the Jesuit values I had come to learn and love at Scranton made me 100% certain that it was the right choice. After months of interviews and discerning, I was finally given my placement; an elementary school English teacher in a school called Fe y Alegria in Tacna, Peru. Having now been in Tacna for 10 months my job has expanded to include other duties at the school such as the director of both the pastoral team and the girl’s empowerment group. My most recent job includes working with the Servicio Jesuita a Migrantes which provides aid to the thousands of Venezuelans who have settled in Tacna as a result of instability in Venezuela. The lessons I’ve learned through my experiences so far have been invaluable and I’m looking forward to learning so much more in the year ahead.

Tacna community 2019. From left: Camila, Maggie, Faith, Cat.

Sunsets outside of my bedroom window.

4th graders showing off their market skills after finishing a unit on buying and selling!

Getting a little grungy on Mes de Mision in Estique Pueblo. January 2019.

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Fr. Carbonneau on St. Ann’s Novena and Coal Mine Spirituality in Scranton

Fr. Rob Carbonneau recently spoke with WVIA about the place of St. Ann’s Novena in Scranton’s History.  The discussion is based on his article, “Coal Mines, St. Ann’s Novena and Passionist Spirituality in Scranton, Pennsylvania, 1902-2002”, in “American Catholic Studies”, Vol. 115, #2 (2004).

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Department Picnic 2019

The History Department held its end of the year picnic on the Saturday before Senior Week.  Faculty, staff, and the History and International Studies seniors all gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of the last four years.  Congratulations Class of 2019!

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Author Interview with Dr. Dzurec


Dr. David Dzurec recently posted to the “Author’s Corner” on the history blog, “The Way of Improvement Leads Home.”

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